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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How To Dine on a Patio

Summer is in full swing here on the East Coast. The days are long, the humidity is high and al fresco dining is all the rage. Anyone who waits tables someplace with outdoor seating knows what I am about to bitch about: the patio. God how I hate the fucking patio. The last time I had a job with outdoor seating, the "patio" was on the sidewalk of Second Avenue. Customers felt completely comfortable complaining to me that the fire trucks were too loud or that a person whose home is of the transitory nature was trying to eat french fries off their plate. Hello, it's not a patio. It's the fucking sidewalk in New York City, get over it. If a homeless person wants to eat a french fry off your plate, you best be willing to forfeit the potato. You're practically their house guest seeing that I may have moved their giant refrigerator box out of the way to set up table 201. At my current job, we have an actual backyard that people dine in. It's full of flowers, lovely views and people complaining.

There are a few things that people should keep in mind when asking to sit on the patio:
  • I will automatically hate you for making me leave the comfort of the air conditioning to wait on you when it's 98°.
  • To the customer who told me it was "too buggy," it's a garden. If you eat on the sidewalk, you deal with hobos, if you eat in a garden you deal with bugs.
  • Please do not call me over to tell me that it is hot. I realize it is hot. If you are hot sitting at a table and drinking a cocktail, how do you think I feel running around dressed in black?
  • Do not ask me if I think it's going to rain. I am neither God nor Sam Champion.
  • Conversely, if it is raining, do not ask me when it will stop. If I could foresee the future, I would not be waiting tables. I would be living in my beach mansion somewhere after predicting the winning lottery numbers. Margaritas would flow from the tap and the kitchen would be perpetually stocked with pizzas and nachos.
  • Do not ask to sit on the patio three seconds after it has stopped raining. The tables are wet, the chairs are wet, and nothing is set up. You whining "but it's not raining anymore" will not change my mind. It takes time to wipe down and dry every single thing that you will complain about being wet. Even if I did get every thing set up and moved you outside, as soon as one rain drop fell onto your precious plate of tilapia, you will then demand to go back inside even though there are no tables available for you. So, no. Don't ask.
  • If your table is wobbly, please look at the ground and notice that it is cobblestones and not a nice even hardwood floor. Your table will be wobbly. It just will. It will not change the taste of your food nor will I put a discount on it since you were so inconvenienced by the wobble. If I was allowed to put an "inconvenience surcharge" on every table that annoyed me, my beach mansion would be as good as mine.
  • If I advise you that the only available table is in direct sun and you have a sleeping baby in a stroller who I say may get warm, you might want to listen to me. I am not a parent, but placing your baby in direct sunlight seems like bad idea to me. However, if that's your thing, I would be happy to place your baby under the heat lamp next to the fried foods after coating it in butter and wrapping it in swaddling aluminum foil. It's the same thing.
  • Do not feed the birds or squirrels your leftovers. We do not need them feeling even more complacent because the next thing you know, some bold ass bitch of a squirrel is going to climb right up onto table 21 and order himself some herb dusted calamari. I do not want that. Squirrels are worse tippers than secretaries or teachers.
  • If the wind blows, hold on to your napkins. Every time a napkin flies off your table not only do I have to get you a new one, I now have to go pull your old one out of the bushes.
  • Also regarding the wind, please make sure your cash or credit card voucher are anchored by something when you leave. Or just hand it to me. If money blows off the table, someone else is going to keep it. No one is going to say, "Oh here, this twenty dollar bill is yours." No, they will snatch that money off the ground and order another Cosmopolitan.
Please keep these handy dandy tips in mind the next time you go into a restaurant and say "Can we eat outside?" It will make for a better experience for you and for your server. And that's what we want, isn't it? We all want to have a good time at restaurants whether we are working at one or eating at one. We all want to help each other and get along. We are a family, like a giant tree, reaching out to the sky. But if that tree drops an acorn into your soup, do not freak the fuck out. Just remove the acorn and continue on with your lovely al fresco dining experience.

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Michelle said...


I love it when people ask to sit on the patio when it's clearly gonna rain and when you tell them "it's getting ready to rain you might want to sit inside" they are like "Oh it's no big deal. We won't melt." Of course when the sky opens up and they run inside, they leave all their stuff outside for you to clean up. In the downpour. It's lovely, really.

Paige said...

I feel you. I work at a restaurant in Dallas where it has been 104 degrees the past week, and every weekend i have the pleasure of working on the patio. What crazy ass would sit out there in this disgusting weather? Well people who would rather sweat than wait forty minutes for a table inside. We wear head to toe black, long sleeves, and they complain its too hot? If you dont really love humidity and you dont want to wait, go to olive garden next door. WE DONT WANT TO BE OUT THERE ANYMORE THAN YOU DO, I love you bitchy waiter. Its nice relating to someone a lil bit, I have been at the same place for four years and a piece of me always dies when I clock in. But I come home and read your blog, and you put a much needed smile on my face! lol

Luke Cloherty said...

Very funny. People are fucking ridiculous to be fair. The most banal questions can be fired at one who works in customer services industries. When I worked in a gadget shop once we had to demo these remote-controlled helicopters and with clearly no wires on display people constantly came up to me and asked "does that run on batteries?" I always replied "yes it does sir/madam" whilst thinking along the lines of "no we actually have invisible cords which lead to the stockroom where some fucking 5 year olds are on exercise bikes keeping the fuckers going!"

Mary A. said...

Eating outside is for family reunions and camping trips.

Nothing says "Salmonella" like ceviche sitting on a hot table for a couple of hours. . .

ChiTown Girl said...

I would pass on a free meal at the swankiest restaurant in town if it meant I had to eat it outside!!!

BTW, Bitchy, not ALL teachers are crappy tippers, ya know. THIS teacher tends to overtip as a rule, unless my server absolutely sucks hairy donkey balls, and then he/she will only get the standard 15%.

Adam Hawthorne said...

In the rank tourist area I live in pretty much every single business along the main street takes advantage of the appeal of alfresco dining (and the revenue generated by twelve additional tables) and fill up the entire sidewalk.

Last time I ate out (INSIDE) some busted looking yuppie hag marched in from outside and I eavesdropped on her complaining to a waiter about some teenage kids on hanging out in front of another store near her table "causing a disturbance."

The waiter was fucking hilarious because he cut her off half-way through to remind her that he was not her server, that she should tell the person taking care of her party, before telling her sweetly that the restaurant doesn't own the sidewalk and is therefore not permitted to tell pedestrians what to do any more than they are permitted to tell the diners what to do.
It's the only time so far this summer that I had a good time dining out.

Rachel said...

Patio people do tend to be more obnoxious than others. Its not just their choice of seating, its the shit they complain about. I had a lady complain that the cars on the nearby highway were too loud, and then look at me expectanly. WTF was I supposed to do, adjust the volume? Have a manager comp her meal for the inconvienience?

witchybaiter said...

@Mary A.: I wish there was a "like" button for your comment.

Noelle said...

There are really only 20 day out of the 365 that are fit for Fresco. these folks need to stop kidding themselves. I say if there is a view of nothing in.

Lebomb said...

@ChiTown Girl,
I was happy to see a post from a teacher saying they tipped decently. In my 15 years of waiting tables, I never saw it happen. Once after waiting on a large, noisy demanding group of them and their spouses, my mother (who was dining at the next table) heard a one exclaim to her husband "Are you really going to tip her that much? Waitresses are the most uneducated, overpaid people out there!!" Luckily he replied " I wouldn't leave any less for having to put up with all the nagging and complaining and "split ticketing" that this lot has caused". Thank you voice of reason!

Babs n Bacchus said...

Ooooh, this made me cringe! When I worked at the crabhouse, outside was where you made all your money. And it was fun. Fine dining....not so much. Our "patio people" spend less and sit longer,(to enjoy the view), and we are basically working twice as hard for half the money. Our newer servers start out on the patio ;)

Kate said...

People amaze me. I linked this over at Kate's Library in my Friday Five in an effort to spread the advice!

maxi said...

Oh yes. We have an outside part called the terrace which is open onto the street and people are more than happy to sit down and then complain no one has been to them for service the second their asses hi the chairs. I have a whole section INSIDE the restaurant to deal with. Management don't rota staff specifically to work outside so we all have to keep running outside every 5 mins to see if someone has sat down. Raaaaaaaa!!! So annoying!!!

nolalola said...

::applause:: I just wish I found this blog sooner. It would've saved my boyfriend so many nights of me coming home and bitching to him endlessly about these morons who want to sit outside IN NEW ORLEANS IN THE SUMMER and complain that it's too hot and their drink is dripping condensation on their leg. HOW DO YOU THINK I FEEL, YOU WASTE OF DNA? I can't believe I'm in service when I HATE people so much...